This report explores the potential for a ‘business case’ for co-creation in nanotechnology research and innovation, building on the findings of the co-creation activities in the European project GoNano (Governing Nanotechnologies through Societal Engagement). The overall objective of the GoNano project was to improve the responsiveness of research and innovation processes to public values and concerns. GoNano brought together citizens, researchers, professional users, civil society organisations, industry and policy makers in a process of deliberative workshops and online consultations around three nanotechnology application areas (health, energy and food) to co-create concrete suggestions for future nanotechnologies. This final GoNano report reviews to what extent GoNano has inspired and encouraged innovation actors to adopt co-creation in research and innovation, working in an inclusive way to align product development to societal values needs and expectations.
The report explores the business case for co-creation both in the narrow and in the broader sense of the term, where, at its narrowest, the business case would be the monetary value it offers to commercial companies, and, in the broader sense, the business case would include non-monetary value (such as reputation, innovation potential, or access to markets) to innovation actors (i.e. including researchers, funding organisations, etc. as well) as adopters of co-creation processes. It reviews the GoNano experiences, considering feedback received from companies and other innovation actors on the GoNano co-creation activities, and reflects on the findings of a workshop with external stakeholders in October 2020 which aimed to explore the business case for co-creation in the context of three EU-projects funded under the NMBP-13-2018 call on risk governance in nanotechnology: NANORIGO, GOV4NANO and RISKGONE.
The report concludes that there may well be a business case for co-creation, both in the narrow and broader sense of the term. The GoNano experience in itself does not provide sufficient evidence to suggest that there is a business case for co-creation in the narrow sense. To argue for co-creation as a purely commercial activity for companies, more straightforward and convincing examples are needed that demonstrate the commercial benefit of co-creation. Still, co-creation may offer opportunities to operationalise the commitment of companies towards their stakeholders. There are some indications from other initiatives like PRISMA and LIVING INNOVATION that companies may adopt co-creation as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility strategies. However, the successful adoption of co-creation does seem to be limited to those cases where ‘doing good’ and ‘doing well’ coincide.
The business case for co-creation seems to look stronger if it is interpreted broadly, as the potential to realise value in the broader sense for all innovation actors. For researchers, co-creation could help to define new inroads for research, gain access to future technology users and attract new sources of funding. For policy makers, co-creation could offer solutions to wicked problems that carry broader stakeholder support. The GoNano experiences provides some initial clues to the potential added value for producers, researchers and policy makers. However, to make a convincing business case for co-creation, many more compelling examples are needed of the added value of adopting iterative, product-focused, transdisciplinary collaborations as part of innovation processes in research, innovation and policy making. As the GoNano project draws to a close, the search for the business case for co-creation continues.
Downlaod the report here: GoNano D5.4 – The business case for co-creation.